There's a war going on. Everyone who produces adult entertainment in any form knows it, as do most of those who sell it and consume it, but it's a war about which a large portion of the general public is as yet unaware.
It's a war between the forces of sexual liberation, represented by the adult video, Internet, cabaret, and magazine industries, and those of sexual repression. That group is represented by dozens of censorship organizations and porn-hating individuals, all of which "spread the word" through churches and synagogues, through seminars - you can read about one such meeting which this author attended undercover in 1999 on AVN's Website at http://digitalod.com/avn/query/ index.cgi?eid =2245&for=news - through public demonstrations outside adult bookstores and nightclubs, occasionally through testimony before Congress, and in an increasingly significant way through their Websites and e-newsletters. A good rule of thumb for recognizing censorship organizations is that their titles will have some mix of two or more of the following buzz-words in them: "Children," "Family" or "Families," "Research," "Concerned," "Values," and "Moral."
So who are the "bad guys"? Well, there are plenty of them, some of whose names are very familiar, while others operate deep behind the scenes and don't get much press unless they surface at local demonstrations or as witnesses in a Congressional hearing. But their supporters know who they are; most of them are mentioned at least a couple of times a month in emailed "AgapePress News Summaries" (more on those later), while others have no problem quoting themselves and their cohorts in "press releases" that go out over Internet news feeds, which in turn lead to these same commentators being described as "experts" by national news media.
Several once-known names have fallen by the wayside. Few any longer mention Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon of Women Against Pornography, who worked to enact laws that would allow women "victims" of porn to sue for the "pain and suffering" the material had caused them. Their star fell quickly when the press began quoting their more extreme utterances, and the fact that they refused to debate anti-censorship activists in public kept them out of the national limelight. Likewise, Charles H. Keating, Jr., owner of Lincoln Savings Bank, member of the original President's Commission on Obscenity and Pornography (1968) and founder of Citizens for Decent Literature (later renamed Citizens for Decency Through Law), is no longer prominent in anti-porn circles since his conviction for having bilked hundreds of depositors out of their life savings. (His organization, however, survives, though it has no Website.)
So who are the current bad guys?
Ayn Rand, in Atlas Shrugged, said of some of the characters she depicts that if they could get real jobs, they wouldn't be working for the government. Whether there's any validity to that concept is open for debate, but the fact is that some of the more visible legal personalities in the censorship movement arrived on the scene fresh from government service.
U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) veterans Bruce A. Taylor and J. Robert Flores, for example, were both prosecutors during the Reagan/Bush years in the National Obscenity Enforcement Unit (NOEU), which changed its name in the early '90s to the more euphemistic Child Exploitation and Obscenity Section (CEOS).
Best known for having been the main prosecutor of early porn mogul Reuben Sturman, Taylor began his public career as an assistant prosecutor in Cleveland, Ohio, where one of his first assignments was to digest what have become known as the U.S. Supreme Court's Miller decisions on obscenity, and to formulate a plan to prosecute purveyors of sexually explicit material that would withstand Supreme Court scrutiny. It may have been his anti-porn zeal that earned him his Justice Department position, but it certainly led him, after leaving the DOJ, to form the National Law Center for Children and Families, of which he is currently president and chief counsel.
Though the National Law Center (NLC) claims to be a "specialized resource to those who enforce state and federal obscenity and child exploitation laws," Taylor himself has often been ineffective when it comes to the nitty-gritty. Last November, after the city of South Bend, Ind. brought Taylor in as a special prosecutor for the first of three scheduled bookstore trials, a 12-person jury took just six hours to find Little Denmark owner Robert Henderson not guilty on all counts of trafficking obscenity, money laundering, and conspiracy. Several attorneys who actively defend adult businesses have expressed the opinion that Taylor is both a lackluster legal writer and an unimpressive advocate in the courtroom. Nevertheless, Taylor is a favored speaker at anti-porn events, and a commentator on various newscasts regarding the adult industry.
Flores is still listed as vice-president and senior counsel for the National Law Center, but his current full-time job is as head of the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, in which position he will likely have a lot to say about porn on the Internet and its (presumed) effect on minors. Flores was Acting Deputy Chief of CEOS during the first Bush presidency, was appointed to the Child Online Protection Act (COPA) Commission, and has been an active opponent of free sexual speech on the Internet. For example, his Nov./Dec. 2000 article for the Concerned Women for America (CWA), "Blind to the Law," is still available online. An excerpt: "Despite connections with organized crime, today the pornography industry feels free to hire lobbyists to influence politicians. We must tell the truth about this dirty 'business.' We must make sure that pornographers, sex club operators, pimps - and the criminal organizations they control - do not write the final chapter of this sordid story.... The new president must lead the battle by appointing law-respecting U.S. attorneys and judges. It's time to wipe the smirk off the porn industry's face."
One of the National Law Center's ex-affiliates is worth mentioning: Janet M. "Jan" LaRue, now senior director of legal studies for the Family Research Council, used to be a senior counsel with the NLC. Author of "A Constitutional and Effective Sexually Oriented Business Ordinance," LaRue played a significant role at 1999's National Pro-Family Conference On Pornography, Sexually Oriented Businesses and Material Harmful to Children, speaking at one of the group's general sessions and leading several seminars.
LaRue gave the conference the following account of some parents' "experiences" in Garden Grove, Calif.: "The parents showed me hardcore video box covers with explicit sex acts on the cover, and people go into these businesses and purchase these materials or rent them and rip the cover off and throw them into the neighboring residential yards around these kinds of businesses. Men sit on the curb in front of these businesses, masturbating in the middle of the afternoon. Garden Grove Boulevard is the boulevard of male prostitutes and Beach Boulevard, which are both major thoroughfares in Southern California - it's the boulevard for female prostitutes. Why are they there? Because there are seven of these [adult] businesses strung together on that boulevard." (Emphasis added.)
In 1988, Patrick A. Trueman was acting director of the NOEU, and took part in the Justice Department's unconstitutional vendetta against several adult mail-order companies, most prominently Adam & Eve, as detailed in Philip D. Harvey's book, The Government Vs. Erotica. Now Trueman is director of governmental affairs for the American Family Association (AFA). In that position, Trueman has claimed that the American Library Assn. "will stop at nothing to promote the availability of [online] pornography in libraries, even at the expense of children"; that "Yahoo! continues to make child pornography available to its customers by means of its online 'clubs' [which] feature pictures of young girls, often being bound, gagged, and tortured, all for the sexual gratification of patrons who may purchase the pictures from Yahoo!"; and that the National Endowment for the Arts is "still funding blasphemy and organizations that produce blasphemy" and should therefore be disbanded. Trueman is currently licking his wounds, as is Taylor, at having been passed over by Attorney General John Ashcroft for the top post at CEOS. (Former deputy chief Andrew Oosterbaan, one of the prime movers behind last summer's child porn sting Operation Avalanche, got the "honor.")
Jay A. Sekulow has a friendly greeting for those who visit his organization's Website:
"Hi, this is Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, and I wanted to welcome you to our web page for the American Center. You're going to see that our interests at the ACLJ are pretty broad:
* We're concerned about Religious Liberty;
* We're concerned about the Unborn Child;
* And we want to protect Your Family and Your Family's Rights
So enjoy our web page here at the ACLJ, and stand with us, as we stand for Liberty."
Unmentioned is the fact that the group's name was chosen specifically to create confusion with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the connections between ACLJ founder M.G. 'Pat' Robertson and the Christian Coalition, the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), and The 700 Club. Robertson is said to have founded the ACLJ in 1990 simply because he "decided to act to undo the damage done by almost a century of liberal thinking and activism."
For example, as far as mandatory filtering of porn on the Net goes, Sekulow testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation that, "This is an issue about protecting our children. While the Internet has proved to be a tremendous asset in providing information to our young people, it is also a haven for obscene and pornographic material. The government has the duty and obligation to protect our children. There should be no constitutional crisis when it comes to safeguarding children who use the Internet." And surely there wouldn't be, if that pesky ol' First Amendment weren't in the way.
Alan Sears is a name porn people haven't heard for a while, but he's starting to make his comeback in censorship circles. Those with long memories will recognize Sears as the former director of the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography, more commonly known as the Meese Commission. But while Sears doesn't specifically fight porn anymore, as head of Arizona's Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), he's very concerned about how "tragically, during this time of national grief, many who oppose the gospel remain bent on moving forward to their goal of a secular America." Sears specifically named the American Civil Liberties Union and LAMDA, "a pro-homosexual legal organization," as groups to watch out for in an article on the AFA Website. "Not a single one of these groups has changed their agenda, not a single one of these groups has withdrawn any of the lawsuits that they filed across America," Sears wrote. ADF is against porn; abortion; right-to-die laws; homosexuals marrying, adopting kids and/or serving in the military; and is in favor of cramming as much religion into public life (and schools) as it can get away with.
Another new name on the scene is Mathew D. 'Mat' Staver, president and chief counsel of Liberty Counsel, a "ministry" based in Orlando, Fla., but also self-described as "a nonprofit civil liberties education and legal defense organization dedicated to preserve religious freedom," which claims to have over 400 affiliated attorneys, all of which have allegedly "gone through extensive training in Constitutional and civil rights litigation." Among the primary goals of Liberty Counsel are to sue those who would prevent the posting of "God Bless America" posters and the Ten Commandments in state and federal office buildings and schools, oppose "homosexual union" laws, and support those who'd like to refuse anti-viral vaccination in case of a bio-warfare attack, as would be required under the proposed Model State Emergency Health Powers Act.
Feel free to append a "Rev." in front of any of these guys, since they've graduated from, or at least been honored by, a bible school or two - but considering their attitudes toward free speech and the sexuality that "God" allegedly gave us, we have to ask, "What Would Jesus Do?"
M.G. 'Pat' Robertson gets to go first, because his brand of Christian fundamentalism is the most media-pervasive. Besides creating the ACLJ, Pat's responsible for inventing the Christian Coalition, the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN). It all started on Oct. 1, 1961, "on WYAH-TV [from Yahweh, the Hebrew name for God], a UHF television station with barely enough power to reach across the Portsmouth [Va.] city limits" - and The 700 Club. He owns the Ice Capades, a small hotel, several diamond mines, and until recently, International Family Entertainment, parent company of the Family Channel, most of which were started with seed money supplied by CBN, whose main source of income was (and is) donations from listeners.
Of the eight goals spelled out on the Christian Coalition's Website - www.cc.org - the one that will most concern AVN Online's readers is "Protecting young people and our communities from the pollution of pornography." The site also says, "Today, Americans are bombarded with countless political messages from across the ideological spectrum. Because of this, it is becoming increasingly difficult to separate truth from fiction and right from wrong."
See if you can guess which of the following quotes were truly and rightly said by (ex-presidential candidate) Pat:
1. "It is interesting that termites don't build things, and the great builders of our nation almost to a man have been Christians, because Christians have the desire to build something. He is motivated by love of man and God, so he builds. The people who have come into [our] institutions [today] are primarily termites. They are into destroying institutions that have been built by Christians, whether it is universities, governments, our own traditions, that we have.... The termites are in charge now, and that is not the way it ought to be, and the time has arrived for a godly fumigation."
2. "The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians."
3. "Just like what Nazi Germany did to the Jews, so liberal America is now doing to the evangelical Christians. It's no different. It is the same thing. It is happening all over again. It is the Democratic Congress, the liberal-based media, and the homosexuals who want to destroy the Christians. Wholesale abuse and discrimination and the worst bigotry directed toward any group in America today. More terrible than anything suffered by any minority in history."
Yep, you were right; he said 'em all - and if you want to see even more of the same, go to www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/7027/quotes.html.
And speaking of quotes, who said this, and about what:
"The ACLU's got to take a lot of blame for this... throwing God out successfully with the help of the federal court system, throwing God out of the public square, out of the schools. The abortionists have got to bear some burden for this because God will not be mocked. And when we destroy 40 million little innocent babies, we make God mad. I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say, 'You helped this happen.'"
If you guessed "Jerry Falwell," with buddy Pat "totally concur[ring]," about the cause of the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, pick up your kewpie doll at the exit.
Jerry runs Liberty University, which is "[t]raining the next generation of Christian leaders," whose "outstanding graduates are actively serving Christ in government, education, media, medicine, business, law and many other fields."
Jerry's also got a daily radio message airing on "Christian radio"; two weekly hour-long shows airing on (non-Christian) TV, Listen America and The Old Time Gospel Hour ("also available 24 hours a day on the Internet"); and a monthly newspaper, the National Liberty Journal, described as "the conservative answer to the liberal bias of other newspapers in print today... fighting for the strong morals and traditional values upon which our nation was founded." Who could ask for more? Oh; and he invented the Moral Majority... which folded in 1989, having failed to achieve any of its objectives.
Jerry and Pat may be the media frontrunners of this section, but the guy who causes the most mischief is Donald E. Wildmon, founder of the American Family Assn. (AFA). Don, as he likes to be called, founded the AFA one evening in 1977 when he was watching TV with his family. "On one channel was adultery, on another cursing, on another a man beating another over the head with a hammer. I asked the children to turn off the TV. I sat there, got angry, and said, 'They're going to bring this into my home, and I'm going to do all I can to change it.' I brooded for a while and then came up with a plan for our church to turn off the TV for a week. I sent out a press release and the national media picked up on it."
Though he claims a readership/listenership in the millions, a more realistic figure is probably a couple of hundred thousand, with the AFA itself having branches in several states. Typically, Wildmon targets well-known businesses - Disney/ABC, K-Mart, Southland Corp. (7-Eleven), Burger King, S. C. Johnson, etc. - accusing the companies of not toeing the AFA line on "obscenity" and the "homosexual agenda."
Wildmon and crew have created at least two media outreach Websites, AgapePress News Summary, emailed daily to subscribers; and CNSNews ("Cyber News Service," formerly "Christian News Service"), which AgapePress frequently quotes. (See "Websites" section, next issue). Several fundamentalist Websites carry front-page links to one or both.
James Dobson isn't much in the news these days, unless you follow the President's Commission on Internet Gambling, on which Dobson serves (guess what? He's against online betting); but the founder of Focus on the Family (FotF) was instrumental in giving porn a big black eye in the '80s.
For a mere seven bucks, visitors to the FotF Website can order a cassette of Pornography Kills, the "final interview of serial killer Ted Bundy (given exclusively to Dr. James Dobson) as he warned about the insidious and progressive nature of this lethal but legal killer: pornography."
Trouble is, Bundy had previously blamed his alcohol consumption and his propensity to ogle high school cheerleaders practicing as the motivation for his taking 36 young women's lives - before Dobson came along to fund Bundy's final appeal.
Dobson also served on the Meese Commission, and an anonymous interviewer on the FotF Website asks Dobson to give an industry "update."
"If people understood the debauchery of this business, and what pornography does to the individual addicted to it, they would be far more motivated to work for its control," Dobson responds. "[I]f a man were to go into the sex shops on Times Square or in other large cities in the United States, he would find very few depictions of normal heterosexual activity. Instead, he would see a heavy emphasis on violent homosexual and lesbian scenes, on excrement, mutilation, enemas, oral and anal sex, instrumentation for the torture of men and women, and depictions of sex between humans and animals.... What has changed since the 1980s is the invasion of obscenity on the Internet. All of the terrible images that we witnessed during the commission, and worse, are now accessible to any 12-year-old with a modem and a high-resolution printer."
Finally, we'd hate to leave out Phil Burress and wife Vickie, founders of several state branches of the pro-censorship Citizens for Community Values and main sponsors of the National Pro-Family Conference On Pornography referenced above. Though their Website is often way out of date, the Burresses are active: Vickie writes porn-bashing articles for, among others, the AFA, while Phil, a former plumber, campaigns in the Cincinnati area against Larry Flynt and his Hustler Superstores. The Burresses have recently commended Butler County, Ohio and its chief prosecutor Robin Piper for their establishment of a $200,000 commission to fight porn. In the commission's six month-plus existence, near as we can tell, it hasn't done squat.
Next month: Websites, politicians, and "Dr." Laura.
This is the first of two parts. The second part will appear in our next issue.